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Taxi Scams Rome (Fiumicino) International Airport

After a long month in Italy my wife and I selected a hotel near the Fiumicino Airport (Rome) for our last night before travel. However the hotel was not within walking distance. The hotel was 7.1 kilometers distant requiring a bus, shuttle or taxi ride to the hotel. We, after learning that the location did not have bus service, decided to taxi to our hotel. The cab companies that serve Fiumicino are all very well parsed on the basis of territorial service and stick to their routes and collude on fees. First sign of beware. The "Rome" licensed taxis told us that we must use the local licensed taxi service, that is Fiumicino Commune. (Fiumicino, the town is where our hotel was located.) So I approached the driver of the local Fiumicino licensed cab (and here is what is most important: READ ALL THE TIPS IN RICK STEVES' TRAVEL GUIDES!) and asked what the fare would be from the airport to the hotel. I already had a cost in mind, as emailed to me by the hotel that the normal price was 20 Euros and at busy times to pay NO more than 25 Euros. The cab driver blithely quoted me 35 Euros. I told him that this was absurd, and would not pay this. Then after an hour searching for alternate transportation, I noticed a second Fiumicino licensed cab with a woman driver parked in the service lot, so I asked her what the fare would be to our hotel, and her quote of 30 Euros was also absurd, and she said this was the "standard" fare (you see they refuse to use their meter....wondrer why?). After another frustrating hour looking for a ride, my wife and I returned to the first driver and said Okay, we will pay the 30 Euro but no more. He said Okay...and the woman drive watched as we loaded our luggage into the man's cab. And now following Rick Steves' advice, I leaned over and took a picture of the cab's city badge and cab number on the door so I could report our fleecing (again advice from Rick Steves on how to handle cab fraud). The woman driver and our man driver became furious, yelling (in Italian, which we did not understand but believe me we got the drift) that this was unacceptable to take a picture and I was to delete it immediatley or they would not provide a ride. I refused so the cabbie threw our luggage into the street and when I entered the cab he grabbed me by the arm and told me to get out, all the while yelling obsentities. I got out and my wife and I collected our luggage, once again without transportation.

However when looking for a lift, I spotted two Carbinieri (police officers) strolling in the airport arrival area and being pretty mad about our situation asked where I could report taxi fraud. One of the officers (who spoke English) said what happened and at that point I told him the story and showed him the iPhone photo. He immediately signaled me to follow him and he, his partner, my wife and I went off to confront the taxi drivers (boy was that tense). After a short and heated discussion with the man taxi driver, who once again refused to help us, the Carbinieri had a chat with the woman driver and she capitulated and agreed to give us a ride, at "half price fare" of 20 Euro. Short story: she did give us the ride, and she received no tip to end our unhappy experience.

My advice: Read Rick Steves, great advice besides just Taxis, ask for help, yes there are honest people who help, and don't give in to the scoundrels. This was not the way to end our vacation but it was a happy ending. Oh, and ask your hotel for advice, they are the best and they can schedule rides that offer fair and equitable prices.

Posted by
16769 posts

I have not taken a taxi in this area, but I don't understand why your protective strategy would not be to insist on the meter rate. Did they say they would not use the meter? I see no indication online that a fixed rate applies for this route and distance; the sources all focus on longer trips to the city.

Posted by
3 posts

Great, ask for the meter rate, but they did refuse to use the meter. That strategy did not work, besides if you speak fluent Italian then go ahead and ask....I don't speak the language. If you don't use a protective strategy you will be fleeced.

Posted by
516 posts

Glad to hear the Caribinieri assisted as they did. Too many stories of corruption in Italy, so hearing positive things about the police is good. Also glad to see you took steps to protect yourself in the face of these unsavory drivers. I wonder, if they're attitude and strong reactions were predicated by your bargaining them to a lower price than they originally demanded. In other words, would they have been happier to help you (and not having a problem with your taking a photo of the badge) had you accepted their first price and hopped in? E

Posted by
597 posts

Apparently Uber has a presence in Rome. I don't know if I would pick Uber over an honest price from a cab driver, since they take income away from the cab drivers; but in a situation such as yours I would have no qualms. You certainly got it resolved nicely, though.

Posted by
3 posts

Apparently no one took the time to carefully read the entire description of the incident. The cab WAS NOT waiting for fares to Rome, that was a separate taxi stand and organization. The cabs I approached were local, that is licensed for fares in the Fumicino area ONLY, so a fare rate chart for Rome is not what I needed, nor would a cab licensed for Rome carry me to a Fiumicino location, they refused and sent me to the locals. As far as all of you that want to second guess my choices, actions, etc. I recommend you ignore my warning, and go right ahead and pay more than the going rate for a cab. Be my guest. Ignore the actions of the cab driver, that is tossing my luggage out of the cab...an ugly American you suppose? My posting was meant to warn not instruct or to lecture. The story is purely a warning and to inform, just as Rick Steves did in his Rick Steves' Italy section on taxis. Read it and you will see he and his staff warn of just such a scam.

Posted by
32 posts

Not to be rude and thanks for the tips but you wasted at least 2 1/2 hours to save 15 Euro?

Posted by
16769 posts

Your experience is useful to other readers. I believe that I read and understood your story quite well. However, from the phrase "(you see they refuse to use their meter...." it was not clear to me how you determined that (e.g., by asking them, or the email from the hotel, or something else you read.) Rick's most detailed taxi advice is not specific to the airport, but it is to look for a posted price list and check that the meter is reset when you board.

Posted by
30958 posts

Did the hotel you chose have any transportation recommendations on their website? I believe some hotels provide a shuttle to the airport for a small fee.

In this case, it might have been worthwhile and saved a lot of aggravation to just pay a few bucks more and stay at the Rome Airport Hilton for that last night. It's connected to the terminals so transportation isn't a problem.